Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Balsamic Glazed Cippolini Onions, Sweet and Sour for Spring!

   About a year ago I made some Balsamic glazed cippolini onions for Christmas. They were such a hit, that they've appeared on every holiday table since then, most recently at Easter. If you've never tried cippolini onions this recipe will hook you, which is why I decided to give it a second turn on the site. It's the perfect make-ahead side dish and would go well on any buffet! The make ahead is the reason I love this, as it gives me one less dish to have to prepare the day of any feast. Time saving is big around here right now, as this Friday is the last round of chemo for me and I've been trying to conserve my energy. Once Friday is behind me, no more ice hats. Since I started, my hair is down to my shoulders and I'll finally be able to cover those roots! So return with me now to the days of yesteryear (basically last year) and take a look at these onions.

This was the first Christmas we spent without my parents present, and the first major holidays spent without loved ones are always difficult. We wanted to remember them in a very special way this Christmas, and so I decided to break out the family china and crystal for a traditional Tuscan feast. Old family favorites were served along with a few new traditions for a feeling of continuity along with a fresh start.

What could be fresher than finds from the Sonoma Farmers market? The freezing temperatures and the lack of rain here have made this winter's markets fairly slim pickings. One of things that there has been no shortage of however, are onions. Brown, white, torpedo, onions galore including the deliciously sweet cipollini. Small, flat and mild tasting, cipollini onions are perfect for roasting and also for caramelizing in balsamic vinegar for a great sweet and sour flavor. I'd prepared these onions before for family Christmas dinners but never quite in this way. Let me tell you, it's going to be a new family classic around here. The recipe comes from James Beard Award winning chef Fabio Trabocchi and it's worth taking advantage of these little Winter onions while they're here and plentiful.

Caramelized Cipollini Onions

Here's What You Need:
1 and 1/2 lb cipollini onions
1/3 cup of sugar
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
zest of 1 lemon
4 bay leaves
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

Here's What To Do:
Boil a large pot of water.
When the water boils, toss in the onions.

Par boil them for about 1 minute.

Drain the onions.

Rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Set them aside to cool a bit.
Zest 1 lemon.
Mix the lemon zest with the bay leaves.

When the onions have cooled a bit, slip them out of their outer skin by cutting off the tip of the onion...

...and gently slipping off the skin.

Put 1/3 cup of sugar in a skillet in a little mound. Add 1 tbs of water to it.

Gently melt the sugar water under a moderate heat without stirring it.

I rotated the pan around on the heat, sliding the dissolved sugar around until it  forms a light amber colored caramel... Like this.

Take the pan off the heat and carefully stir in the butter...

...and the balsamic vinegar. I used  Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Sonoma Harvest.

Be careful adding the vinegar, as the caramel will harden up and you'll have hard crunchy bits of sugar. This is okay as you'll see.

Put the pan back on the heat and stir until the caramel is melted again.
When the caramel has melted down again, add in the onions...

...the lemon zest, and the bay leaves.

Stir everything around, and add in the broth.

Bring the whole thing to a boil, then add salt and pepper to taste, turn the heat down and let everything simmer over a low heat until the onions are glazed and the liquid is syrupy.

This takes about 1 and 1/2 hour.

Serve them up, or you can make them ahead and reheat them the day of the event.

These onions are delicious, sweet and savory with a bit of vinegary bite.

They were perfect partners with the citrus marinated crown roast of pork I served as a main dish, and with the steak I cooked up the other day when I couldn't help making them again. It was good making a new dish and serving it on the tableware my family has used for generations, making a new traditions to accompany old memories. Coming up next, seasonal Indian dishes perfect for spring. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Search For The Perfect Lemon Tart. My Personal Moby Dick!

   I hate it when I lose things. Who doesn't? One thing I especially hate to lose is a favorite recipe.  Now, I have a million recipes blowing through my head at any given time, some things, depending on how often I make them, are permanently stuck in my brain. Others require a walk through the Memory Palace to revive them. As a backup there are also files, and notebooks, various sources and places where I stash stuff I like. However, every once in a while something slips through. A recipe evades me, I lose a piece of paper, or a clipping and bang, something's gone. Usually not for good, but there is always that one thing, that once it's missing is hard to lay hands on again. That is the story of the Lemon Coconut  Macaroon Tart.
   Lemon Coconut tarts are easy to make, a fast, simple, dessert recipe that was a staple on party buffets and all sorts of gatherings at our house back in the day. I stumbled upon the recipe  back in 1992, in a magazine called Cooking Light. This was pre-internet times so things weren't as easy to hang on to back then. The recipe had to be written down and saved, or clipped and stuck someplace, all of which I did, leaving me losing the recipe sometime around 1996 or so. Every now and then I'd think about the tarts, what I used to do when I made them, but I could never remember the recipe exactly. Occasionally, I'd sweep the internet looking for the recipe, also with no results. The thing had disappeared back into the mists of the early 90's along with the last of the big hair and shoulder pads.

   Then, last week I started thinking about those lemon tarts again. "What's the harm?" I thought. "It's been years, why not take another look online and see if you can find it." So I did, and no one was more shocked than I was when the recipe popped up. I found it on a blog called ItsyBitsy Foodies, a post that had been put up 5 years ago. There it was, my great white whale, I had my lemon tart recipe! There was nothing to do now but take a stroll down memory lane and actually bake the suckers, and so, I did.
   As I said these are easy to make, take next to no time, and are great little bite-sized treats if you make them in a mini muffin pan. Use a regular sized muffin pan for an individual sized dessert. They can also be made gluten free by substituting regular flour for any gluten free flour.

Lemon Coconut Macaroon Tarts


Here's What You Need:


Tart Shells:

  cups dried shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites

Lemon Curd Filling:

3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs plus 2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 egg

Here's What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the shredded coconut...




 ...and egg whites into a bowl.

Mix everything together well.
Lightly grease whatever muffin tin you are going to be using, then press the tart dough into the muffin cups.

Press the dough down and up the sides.
Pop the tart shells into the oven and bake them for about 15 minutes.

You'll know they're done when the edges are lightly toasted.
Cool them for a couple of minutes on a wire rack.

Then set them aside in an airtight container until you're ready to fill them.

For the lemon curd, mix the sugar...


...lemon zest... a saucepan.

Gradually add in the water...

...and the lemon juice.

Beat the egg in a separate bowl and set it aside.
Gradually bring the mixture in the saucepan to a boil. Once it boils let it cook for about 1 minute stirring constantly.
Slowly pour 1/4 of the hot lemon mixture in the sauce pan into the bowl holding the beaten egg.

As you do this, do not stop stirring, as we want lemon curd not scrambled lemon eggs.
Once the egg and lemon mixture is smoothly blended together, pour it all back into the saucepan.

Cook it over a medium heat until the lemon curd mixture thickens. This doesn't take too long, just keep stirring.
When the lemon mixture is thick, pour it into a bowl to cool.

When it's cooled, cover the bowl with a bit of plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge to chill.
When you're ready to serve the tarts, fill them with lemon curd.

You can dab a bit of homemade whipped cream on top.

And add a few fresh raspberries, or strawberries as a topper.

Then serve them up!

    There they are simple, fast, and since I used the Meyer lemons off of our tree, full of lemony goodness. Eating one of these was a bite of nostalgia. They were as good, and simple as I remembered them. They were in short, worth the wait. Of course now I want to fill them with mango curd, and all sorts of other things now that the recipe is in my clutches once again.
  Meanwhile, I'm going to be done with chemo in 2 weeks, that shows how fast time flies! There will be celebrating a plenty, and lots of Indian food on hand. Coming up next a simple trick with onions. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Great Flavor, Extra Protein, and Vegetarian! Eggplant and Lobia Makhani for Meatless Monday.

   There are days when one is looking for an answer to the question "what to cook?" That doesn't happen all too often around our house but when it does, I go trolling to some of my favorite friends' sites to see what they've been up to looking for inspiration or an easy recipe. That is exactly what I found at my friend Sanjanas site K O Rasoi. She happened to be featuring a delicious looking Eggplant Makhani, but what sold me on the dish immediately was the fact that it could be made in my slow cooker in 3 freaking hours!!!!!!!

   Slow cooker, reasonable cooking time you had me at 3 hours!!! I knew this would be the perfect dish for a meatless Monday. Not only that but I'm nearly done with chemo, (only 3 more weeks to go) and so my energy is not the greatest, this slow cooker business sounded better and better. I'm also dealing with anemia which is a side effect of the chemo and so I decided to tweak the dish a bit by adding in some extra protein hit in the form of black eyed peas aka lobia. Chances are you have almost everything for this recipe right in your kitchen now, even if you don't do tons of Indian cooking. With that said, on to the recipe.

Eggplant, and Lobia Makhani served with Rice with Whole Spices

Here's What You'll Need: 

3 whole eggplants
1 package of frozen black eyed peas, or one 16 oz can
2  500grm bottles of passata (seived tomatoe pulp) you can find this at any market usually where the canned tomatoes or pasta sauce is sold. (I got mine at Whole Foods )
2 Tbs tomato paste
4 whole shallots finely chopped
1 Tbs grated ginger
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala
the seeds out of 6 cardamom pods, finely ground
1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
3 small dried  red chilies finely chopped
50 grms melted unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 Tbs of sugar
3 tsp salt
100 ml of whipping cream
1 tsp of crumbled dried methi
toasted flaked almonds for garnish
chopped fresh cilantro to garnish

Here's What To Do:

Wash and chop your eggplants into 1 inch squares.

Put them into your slow cooker.

Add in the finely chopped ginger.

Chop and mince the shallots, add them to the eggplant in the slow cooker.

Pour in the bottles of sieved tomato pulp.

Add in the tomato paste.

Add in the ground coriander and garam masala.

Crush the cardamom pods.

Take out the seeds, grind them and toss them in.
Grind the fennel seeds.

Toss them in too.

Add in the chopped dried red chilies.

Add in the salt and sugar add in the melted butter.

Stir everything around so all the spices are well mixed together.

Turn on the slow cooker to high and the timer to three hours.

After an hour and a half, give everything a good stir, check and see how your eggplants are coming along.
Add in the black eyed peas
Then go about your business, this is Me Time.
When 3 hours are up check your eggplants, nice and tender?
Add in the whipping cream...

...and the ground methi.

Check your seasoning and add salt if needed.
Stir everything together and serve it up! Decorate each plate with a sprinkled of the slivered almonds and sprinkle of the chopped fresh cilantro.

I served my eggplant with Basmati rice with whole spices. You can add roti or naan bread or whatever you wish. You can even make this ahead of time (night before) and just rewarm it on the stove. Delightful, warm, spicy, the perfect early spring  slow cooker meal for a Meatless Monday.

   I want to thank Sanjana for turning me on to this amazing dish which was literally just what the doctor ordered for me! It allowed me the extra protein I needed, without  bothering with meat. This is staying in the permanent rotation at our house. I even froze the leftovers. What's next? More super easy dishes because...why not!? Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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